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A parallel universe

Every June, we undertake our annual summer visit to our farmland (pilgrimage for my husband and nothing short of an odyssey for me). No two journeys to the farm are alike. The perils of each are unique. From the order and method of City Beautiful (Chandigarh) one gets thrown into a chaotic universe where if anything rules, it is certainly uncertainty! Gurvinder Kaur writes.

punjab Updated: Jun 12, 2013 09:34 IST
Gurvinder Kaur

Every June, we undertake our annual summer visit to our farmland (pilgrimage for my husband and nothing short of an odyssey for me). No two journeys to the farm are alike. The perils of each are unique. From the order and method of City Beautiful (Chandigarh) one gets thrown into a chaotic universe where if anything rules, it is certainly uncertainty!


Beginning with catching a train to the hinterland of what is now known as Uttarakhand, to reach the 'terai' alias 'mini Punjab' region where our quaint farm reposes, it is a journey of many parts. You sit at the station waiting for the train. It is invariably late, this much is certain. If you are lucky, it will be late by only a couple of hours but if it is not to be your night, it could be over seven hours late. Add to it the sweltering summer heat, flies, mosquitoes and stench of the station.

On board the train if a roach or two don't drop on your face from their dash across the back of the seat above you, the AC will either freeze you into an icicle or the heat will keep you awake. Of course, your luck may hold and the cooling may be just right. And if by the end of the journey, no one has managed to scoot off with all or a piece of your luggage, you may think that the odyssey is turning into a smooth one. Well, think again.

Once the train journey ends, there's another 70 km to go! Jostle down and lug off your stuff to the least rickety bus taking you to 'pul-bhatta' (bridge next to the kiln) as the nearest landmark to the green kingdom is called. Taxis ply, but locally. You sit in the bus shooing flies and waiting for the bus to fill (read stuffed with people).

Now if you are lucky, someone carrying a coop or a train of milk cartons may sit next to you. You may get away with a few hen pecks or some mild splashes of milk but if it is not to be your day, someone with a good amount of holy water sloshing his innards may perch next to you and even eye you persistently in order to start exchanging slurred pleasantries. Of course, it is mandatory to have your toes crushed during the two-hour journey. After the bus has swerved, lurched and clambered on and off wide berms at full speed, you may or may not find your driver waiting at 'pul-bhatta' for the last 5 km lap to the farmhouse. If the rats have chewed up a sizeable chunk of the tyres again, you may have to hitch a ride atop a passing tractor. You may even find a neighbour's vehicle passing by that is if you're lucky. Else brace yourself for a long walk.

This is a parallel universe and it stands one in good stead to remember the only thing certain here is uncertainty. After all, anything is possible in this Odyssey!